What began with rumors stirring in the far reaches of China has swept right onto our own front porches here in WM. Unprecedented, pandemic, global catastrophe. These words and phrases have filled every news feed, social media post, and forced us all to live radically different lives. This is not only an unbelievable time to be alive, but most importantly an unbelievable opportunity to live as Christ before our neighbors and in front of the nations!
As a staff and as elders, we have been praying and reforming how we minister while separated from the body. I find it an amazing and profound reality that we have never been more separated than we are right now, but we have also never been more unified than we are right now! We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord! I am sure that I am not alone in experiencing deeper times in prayer, meditation on God’s Word, and Spirit-filled conversations with many of you! God has a funny way of dispersing His people while also drawing them together. Think of the times in the Scriptures where we read of that scattering only to be regathered together in a time of rejoicing and celebration. From the exile of Israel and Judah to the diaspora of the NT, God has seen fit to bring about His redemptive purposes through times exactly like we are living in. Was it scary to be exiled? Yes! Many Israelites died and suffered. Was it terrifying to be dispersed through the Roman Empire? Absolutely! Yet Isaiah wrote to the exiles saying, “Comfort, comfort my people O Jerusalem!” And Peter wrote to the “elect exiles” of the diaspora and calling them to sobriety and preparedness saying, “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We are a people who are in the world but our King and His Kingdom are certainly “not of this world!” Therefore we set our mind on things above and not on the things of this world! We, more than anyone else, have more reason to live with joy and expectancy because we serve this Living Hope, whose name is Jesus!
In light of these recent events, our elders and staff have highlighted the following “silver linings” of this quarantine”
1. We have an incredible opportunity to “be the church” by serving, praying for, loving our neighbors (since that is all we can see right now!), and more importantly to share with them the reason for the hope within us!
2. We all miss the gathering of the saints for worship and fellowship! Imagine being the NT church, under constant threat and fear of death, and how much they would have longed to meet together. The old adage says, “you never know what you have till it’s gone.” I have never felt this sentiment truer of church then when my 6-year-old is crying because she misses church! Praise God!
3. We all get an opportunity to grow in our ability in practicing the patience of Jesus! We are called to be patient and long-suffering and being home 24/7 with family will definitely provide ample opportunity for growth!
4. We are learning new ways to communicate and utilize technology for the advancement of the Gospel!
I have used Zoom more times in the past week than I have in the past year…or decade for that matter! May Jesus use every article, posting, zoom call, Skype, fb messenger, facetime, duo and every other avenue to spread His fame through this land and globe!
5. We are growing in our prayer time! As elders, staff, and many others, I am sure many people are praying now more than ever! If you haven’t, here is your invitation!
6. We get to see the gifts of the body put to use through the creativity and compassion of the Spirit of Jesus moving through His body in amazing ways!
7. We all get to witness in the coming months and years just how Jesus will build His Kingdom through this global crisis!
We could list many, many others in this list and see how Jesus is already proving to be the victor of this.
Here are a few quick notes I’ll mention as far as our churches response during this time.
We closed the offices in response to Gov. Whitmer’s “stay home, stay safe,” executive order.
We opened an emergency food shelter right in our lobby!
We put all services online.
We are encouraging everyone to give online/mail to 3500 new Holland Street
We are utilizing Zoom for staff, elder meetings.
We are receiving “Give Help/Get Help” requests.
We are continuing to reach out to you for prayer/needs.
We are working with other local churches to “bethechurch”
Please continue to pray for our leadership for wisdom, our body for peace and protection for all, but especially those who are working on the front lines of fighting this pandemic in the medical field
(WE THANK YOU!)
Trusting in the fullness and confidence in Christ,
Your Pastor – Keoni